When I first started my counselling and hypnotherapy training, I had to start a self-reflection journal based around what we were learning at the time. This was because some of the things we learnt about may trigger us and bring up issues that either we had buried or did not know existed. The journey to becoming a counsellor is one full of self-reflection and I have learnt so much about myself over the last few years. I had often journaled in the past since doing my Reiki level 1 training in 2008, and found it an amazing tool for self healing.
My journal became an invaluable resource that I could turn to whenever I needed as it gave me a place to freely articulate my thoughts and feelings. It was a place where I could make sense of my experiences and release pent up emotions of sadness, anger or fear. The awareness that I had about my life and myself meant that I could make better choices and move forward in positive directions.
I see my personal reflective journal as a self-care exercise that I still do now. I take issues to my counselling sessions as and when I need to and it assists me greatly in my continuous professional development.
It has helped me to gain different perspectives, put my thoughts and feelings in order, vent strong emotions, recognise my achievements, make decisions, celebrate achievements, increase well-being and has greatly helped with my personal development.
I use a note book and pen as I find I can use this anywhere and I find it easier to be more creative and I like the tactile nature of writing. I can even use flow charts or draw something if I need to. I know that for some people they may prefer a keyboard as they can type more quickly and find it easier to keep it private. There really is no right or wrong way to journal and the important thing is that it works for you.
I know that my journal will never be read by anyone else so it is important to find somewhere safe that you know if will not be found! This way you can write completely uncensored where you can share your innermost thoughts and feelings.
When I have had difficulties, I have sometimes written from other people’s perspectives so I can look at issues from different view points which helps me explore things from different angles. This makes me more self-aware. I also find it useful to write from a stranger’s perspective so that I can get an even bigger perspective especially if I have issues with friends and family.
I have also used inanimate objects, by closing my eyes and when I open them allowing my eyes to be drawn to something in particular. For example, if it is a shell, I look at the shape, texture, size, colour, how can I relate that to myself, is it shiny or dull?
I have also written unsent letters to people and even to the younger me to give advice about life lessons I have learnt, to offer myself support and know that whatever difficulties may arise in the future I have survived so much already that I know I can cope with whatever life throws at me in the future.
I’ve even written about my hopes and dreams for the future, including any worries I have, or it could simply be about my day. I recently looked at a journal entry I had written back in 2008, and was amazed to see that I had written one day I would love to be a counsellor. This was quite interesting to see as I had no recollection of writing that at the time and as far as I was aware it had not been something I had thought about until 2015!
Counselling can be a great place to explore your journal and help you to grow in self-awareness. The counselling room is a safe place to talk about your deepest darkest feelings and thoughts, knowing that you will not be judged. I recommend journaling to many clients as I know it really works. Looking back over old entries can really help you to see how you have grown.
I am still working face to face and online so please feel free to contact me.